Exclusive: Race hate - a crime the police will not solve

Community leaders say they no longer trust police to investigate offences as fewer than two out of 10 allegations of race hate are followed up by officers

Tens of thousands of race hate crimes are going unreported every year, disturbing new figures reveal, as community leaders warn they do not have faith in the police to investigate such offences.

A government study shows that the proportion of hate crimes being recorded by police in England and Wales has fallen by almost 20 per cent in the past three years.

Less than a fifth of allegations of racially or religiously motivated crime are now investigated, and less than a third of these result in court proceedings, let alone convictions.

Campaigners claimed yesterday that the discrepancy showed the police were “no longer looking” for hate crime and were more interested in showing that recorded crime was falling than encouraging victims to come forward.

“There is pressure on the police not to look for these crimes,” said Fiyaz Mughal, who runs Mama, a helpline for victims of anti-Muslim violence. “Who would want to be a chief constable or police and crime commissioner reporting increased rates of racially aggravated crime? All they want to do is reduce crime levels.” The Home Office report compared data gathered from the annual Crime Survey – which estimates the total extent of crime in the UK – with actual incidents reported to police.

Based on two years of data it found that there were an estimated 278,000 hate crimes a year – of which 154,000 had an element of racial motivation. But official police figures recorded only 42,236 hate crime offences in the past year and just 30,000 racially aggravated crimes – 15 per cent of the total reported in the Crime Survey.

Although the survey does show higher rates of offending than official figures for almost all crimes, the difference is not usually so stark. On average, across all crimes, police statistics record around 40 per cent of the offences reported to the survey.

The statisticians who compiled the report said that it was possible that some crimes – which the victim believed to be racially motivated – were not being assessed as such by the police.

Race charities said the discrepancy was also due to ethnic minority groups not having confidence in the criminal justice system and not reporting race hate crimes in the first place.

“I don’t believe that hate crime is falling, despite what the recorded crime figures suggest,” said Andrew Bolland, partnership manager at the charity Stop Hate.

“What these figures show is that people are just less likely to go to police and report crime than they were. A lot of people lack the confidence that they are going to get a successful outcome from the criminal justice system and that does effect reporting.”

Jon Burnett, a researcher at the educational charity the Institute for Race Relations, said he believed the discrepancy was probably due to a combination of factors. 

“Often the criminal justice system does not understand racism or know how to deal with it.

“We know from our work that many hate crimes do not get reported because of experience or perception that the police will not thoroughly investigate them.

“At the same time I think that there is a tendency on the part of the police not to label crimes as hate crimes because there is a belief that it will be more difficult to get a conviction. There is also a feeling that any conviction is a successful result.”

Assistant Chief Constable Drew Harris, the national policing lead for hate crime, admitted that under-reporting of hate crime was a real problem.

“There is a significant difference between police-recorded hate crime and the Crime Survey because hate crime is still massively underreported,” he said.

“Under-reporting is still one of biggest challenges that  the police and the criminal justice system face in reducing the harm caused by these type of crimes. We are committed to increasing the reporting and recording of hate crime.”

Crime prevention minister Norman Baker said all forms of hate crime were deplorable and tried to reassure victims that they would get support if they came forward.

“We can only confront it if victims feel empowered to come forward, confident that their voices will be heard,” he said.

“The number of people receiving a custodial sentence for racially or religiously aggravated crimes is higher than ever before, and these criminals are spending more time in prison.

“However, we need to do more to encourage all victims to come forward. This is why we are working with the police and other agencies to increase reporting, improve support and prevent these terrible crimes happening in the first place.”

Case study: Revenge not race behind murder

Changez Arif, 33,  was stabbed to death in Manchester in 2006 by 19-year-old Michael Skeffington.

Skeffington had already been given an anti-social behaviour order for terrorising a predominantly Asian local estate. However, in the case of Mr Arif the police ruled out racial motivation, stating that the attack was motivated instead by revenge.

On the night of the murder, Skeffington and Mr Arif were involved in a fight, from which the teenager came off worse. Enraged at having lost the fight, Skellington picked up a knife and lay in wait for  Mr Arif to walk down an alleyway to meet someone. When he did, the teenager stabbed him in the back and stomach.

Skellington fled to London but was arrested five days later. He was convicted of murder in January 2007 and will serve a minimum of  15 years in jail. 

Chloe Hamilton

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
SPONSORED FEATURES
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

They fled war in Syria...

...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

Kelis interview

The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea